Seawater Phage Metaproteomics or: Dark Matter, It’s Not Just for Astronomers Anymore
Date: Jun 19, 2012
Time: 11:00 – 11:50 AM PDT
Speaker: Don Lorimer, Project Leader, Emerald Bio
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Abstract: Despite centuries of discovery, most of our planet’s biodiversity remains unknown. Characterizing this diversity is a fundamental goal of biology and has very important practical applications. For example, discovering new enzymes and new metabolic pathways could potentially lead to new medicines, new biomaterials, and certainly new tools for biotechnology. Emerald BioStructures is currently involved in an NSF funded project led by Dr. Forest Rohwer (San Diego State University) to address this goal by determining the structure of proteins from viruses living in the world’s oceans. This is particularly difficult because the vast majority of open reading frames (ORFs) identified in these viruses are so widely disparate it is not possible to align them with any other protein of known function. These ORFs are therefore referred to as “Dark Matter” because the corresponding protein structures and functions are completely unknown. Emerald is using its Multi-Target Parallel Processing (MTPP) platform to process hundreds of Dark Matter proteins with completely unknown structure and function. We will present the processes for expressing, purifying, crystallizing, and determining the structure of viral metagenomic proteins. The unique challenges this approach demands along with the solutions that Emerald has developed with our collaborators will be discussed. In addition, the structures of several viral Dark Matter proteins will be presented including one which possesses a novel protein fold.